When a clinical trial showed the targeted drug ibrutinib to be highly effective in patients with a form of lymphoma called Waldenström macroglobulinemia, the results were so compelling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for all patients with the disease, even though the trial included only patients previously treated with other agents.

It was an uncharacteristically expansive decision for the FDA, which normally authorizes treatments only for the specific subset of patients in whom they’ve been tested. It turns out to have been well founded, though, as a recent study led by Dana-Farber investigators showed the drug can produce long-lasting responses as a front-line therapy in patients with Waldenström’s.

The study, published late last year in the journal Leukemia, presented the results of a phase II study involving 30 patients with Waldenström’s who received ibrutinib as their initial therapy.

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